View Full Version : Where to purchase used lenses?
H. G. Hart
I am looking to buy a used lens for my 4x5 field camera. What are some reliable resources for used lenses in good condition. Obviously, reasonable prices are a major consideration. I am already familiar with keh.com and mpex.com.
Thanks, H. G.
Calumet (www.calumetphoto.com) sells used lenses. They sometimes have sales at very good prices. Ask to be put on their mailing list. The Lens and Reproduction Equipment Corp. (www.lensrepro.com) is a frequently recommended source. They carry older items than Calumet and some others. eBay is definitely not safe, and lenses bought there may not necessarily be less expensive than those from other sources, but even so, it remains the source for lowest prices. Just be careful and, if in doubt, pass.
Keep in mind that a lens which has not been in service recently will probably need a CLA, and adjust the price you are willing to pay accordingly.
I can recommend Midwest Photo Exchange for fair prices and guaranteed satisfaction. Good Luck!
Probably the best source is www.mpex.com. I have bought several lenses from them and they always seem to underestime the condition. 9 or 9+ is hard to tell from brand new except no box. www.keh.com is another good source.
eBay is definitely not safe, and lenses bought there may not necessarily be less expensive than those from other sources, but even so, it remains the source for lowest prices. Just be careful and, if in doubt, pass.
Ebay is "safe" if you know what you are doing....If you have researched an Item and know what to expect, than EBAY is OK. I have bought several lenses from dealers, that needed total overhauls.....on a "9 condition" item.
If you don't know what you are doing...than avoid EBAY. Most people who complain about EBAY, either expect to get $2000 items for $75 or are uninformed, uneducated, don't read, etc. I have sold many pieces of camera equipment on EBAY, and over 220 positive feedbacks.
Narrow down your list of what you want, than start checking the ads or EBAY. in addition to the above try, www.qualitycamera.com, www.photogizzmo.com, www.brooklyncam.com, www.igorcamera.com.
I can second the comments on KEH. Last year I bought a 300mm lens for my Pentax 645 that they rated as a bargain (one of there lowest ratings) It was a great price and when I got it, it just had a couple of cosmetic marks on the lense barrel. It has worked flawlessly and was indeed a great bargain! Keh seems to be very conservative in there ratings, which is to say that you probably won't get burned. Ebay is still a good source for used equipment. I have both bought and sold alot of equipment. You must watch your feedback ratings and know what you are bidding on. I have seen used items go for more than new at B&H or Adorama. Bargains are out there, you just have to look.
FWIW, I, too, have experienced excellent service and quality items coming from KEH. They are sometimes slightly more expensive than other dealers of used gear, but I've never heard of anyone having an unresolved problem with them. I've only purchased from Midwest Photo Exchange (mpex.com) once, and that experience was good, too.
A couple or three regular contributors to this forum also frequently have optics for sale on ebay. They have excellent feedbacks from buyers(check it out for yourself) and I wouldn't hesitate to buy lenses from them---I have in fact bought a couple and they were excellent additions to the stable. The only downside might be that their reputations for quality items are well known and the more popular lenses often get "bid up" to what the retailers often charge and sometimes more as auction fever sets in...still, you never can tell until you join the dogfight. Like in Reno, set your personal limit and pass when the stakes get too high.
A caution though regarding unknown sellers on Ebay. If something is dirt cheap, it probably is, well, unpleasant. If you're into experimenting, thats fine, but I've got my own version of Scotland Yard's Black Museum----a 24" RD Artar that looks as if jilted bride worked over the rear element with her engagement ring. A #4 Universal shutter with no provision for a cable release----well, you get the idea.
I hope this helps.
yeas, anything from Dagor 77 on ebay should be decent, same for anything from Jim Galli - but their stuff usually goes for realistic prices not bargain. Botare on this list and straight up honest blokes
Add another vote for KEH; their rating system is better than excellent. (I say that because it seems that if they rate a lens as "excellent" it will meet or exceen anyone else's "like new" rating...)
Ebay is like the world's biggest garage sale. There's a lot of outright junk there being passed off as a great find, but there are also some great finds to be had. My advice: pay attention to the seller's feedback. Set definite limits: how much feedback they need before you even look, how many negatives you'll overlook, etc. Then abide by your limits; if a seller has even one more bad rap than your limit, then you just don't want anything he/she has to sell.
It would help if you told us where in the world you live. In the UK, Robert White sells 2nd hand LF lenses, never had a problem buying from them.
My (personal) preference is for ebay.de. Very good selection at reasonable prices, but it really helps to be able to read German. And like all other auction sites: It's only good if you know what you want and what to pay for it.
I'm surprised no one has mentioned Quality Camera Co. in Atlanta. They know their stuff, a lot of LF and ULF passes through there and I think prices lower than Lens and Repro. All of the above are good too, just didn't want to see QCC left out. Tracy
The dealers that seem to have the largest inventory of used large format lenses based on their ads are MidWest Photo Exchange, KenMar Camera, Lens and Repro, KEH, and Quality Camera. Adorama and B&H both also sell used large format lenses though personally I avoid B&H. KEH has an excellent reputation, their ratings are conservative as others have noted. Their prices tend to be on the high side but many people are willing to live with that for the peace of mind. Lens and Repro prices also seem to be a little high. My personal preference is MidWest, never a hassle, no problem returning things well after expiration of their nominal 15 day return period, honest ratings, good prices, and knowledgeable staff. When I recently returned a used camera and bought a new one that had to be ordered they suggested I just keep the used one until the new one came in so that I wouldn't be without a camera while waiting for the new one to come in. They're always my first choice, I go to one of the others only if MidWest doesn't have what I want.
If you're feeling adventurous you can place an ad on rec.photo.marketplace.large-format stating what you're looking for. I've bought and sold several items this way, as well as through photo.net's classifieds, and have never had a problem. Things I've bought or sold range from a cheap grain finder to a Symmar 150mm, a Minolta Autocord, and an old SRT-101 kit.
David R Munson
Here's another vote for KEH, MPEX, and QCC. They've all served me well in the past and among them I feel that MPEX probably has the best service - in fact every time I deal with them I leave wishing every business was run so well as that.
I also heartily recommend Midwest Photo Exchange. When you call there ask for Jim. A great source for used Fujinon lenses, as well as the other brands. I have also purchased used lenses (not LF) from KEH. All have been in better shape than advertised. The same is true with the lenses I purchased from Midwest Photo. The KEH prices are likely to be higher than Midwest's, in my experience, and the lenses are not in any better condition.
Here's another vote of confidence for Jim at Midwest. I've bought 3 Nikkor lenses and an Ebony from him all at reasonable prices and good descriptions. Well, the Ebony needed a new bellows but otherwise all the rest of the stuff was in good condition. I guess upon visual inspection the bellows showed no real signs of wear. Only upon inspection of my transparencies did I notice certain areas where light leaks did their damage. After using a flash light in a dark room I began to notice pinholes in the 12 year old bellows. Hiromi at Ebony told me I needed a new bellows after I shipped him the camera for repair. Since it was a few months after I purchased the camera Midwest did nothing to reimburse me for the added $300 expense of replacing the bellows. They have a 15 day return policy. I didn't really mind so much though since I got a smokin' deal on the Ebony to begin with. All in all, I would still recommend Midwest heartily. Just check your equipment after purchasing it.
I think eBay is pretty safe, if you only bid on sellers with over 500 feedbacks at >99.5% positive (that's more than a few). Preferably that make it obvious that they are in fact retail camera stores.
Ebay is useful even if you don't buy there, as a huge database of pricing info, including the last 90 days of completed auctions. I think it's 90 daysworth... And to say nothing of the entertainment value of dagor77's listings, whom we should all support. ;-)
If you happen to be a member of photo.net, I have had good luck with their classifieds as well. Also Midwest, KEH.
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